As the nation celebrates Halloween, the House and Senate are engaged in some spooky late-stage Republic chaos over aid to Israel and Ukraine amid a backdrop of yet another government shutdown looming in two weeks.
- The government will run out of money (again) in roughly two weeks, requiring Congress to act (again).
- According to Democrats and GOP Neocons such as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, America needs to send billions of taxpayer funds to both Israel and Ukraine, and won't consider any legislation that doesn't combine the two.
- House Republicans under newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), as well as a group of Senate Republicans, want Israel aid separated from Ukraine aid, while the Biden White House wants to jam a $105 billion foreign aid package ($14B to Israel, $60B to Ukraine) through Congress.
- The House's plan (if they can even pass it) to separate Israel aid from Ukraine aid is DOA in the Senate, while both the Senate's combined package and the Biden admin's package is DOA in the House.
- The House and the Senate also need to pass 12 appropriations measures for 2024, or face a 1% across-the-board cut on defense and nondefense spending, per the debt ceiling bill passed earlier this year.
While Johnson is hoping to push this through in a Thursday vote in the House (with no guarantee it'll pass), Senate Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) - who love war and defending foreign borders, are a no-go, with Schumer calling it "insulting."
Schumer says House GOP's Israel aid bill is "insulting" by linking aid to Israel with cutting IRS funding— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) October 31, 2023
"This kind of unnecessary partisan legislation sends the wrong message" to the world.
"This House GOP proposal is clearly designed to divide Congress on a partisan basis"
As previously noted, while McConnell and other Senate neocons are in lockstep with Schumer and the Democrats over a massive funding package, a group of GOP Senators led by Roger Marshall (R-KS) have introduced legislation to provide a similar $14.3 billion in aid to Israel without Ukraine funding.
🚨What every American should know about Biden's $105B aid package-— Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) October 28, 2023
It leverages the attacks against Israel to send BILLONS more to Ukraine, slows down Israel from getting the help they need in their time of war, does nothing to actually secure our borders, & is DOA in the House. pic.twitter.com/Ytf3V4mhMS
"If Democrats want [Ukraine aid] so badly, then shouldn’t Republicans get one of our priorities in a trade?" said Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) in a statement to Punchbowl News. "We shouldn’t just roll over and give Democrats everything they want, especially when it divides our conference so starkly."
More via Punchbowl:
Vance said McConnell should force Democrats to accept policy changes at the southern border, before giving them enough GOP votes to pass a massive aid package for Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific. Many other Republicans agree with Vance. The White House’s request asks for more border security funding, but Republicans see this as a ruse. And Democrats say policy changes are a non-starter.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has long called to offset new federal spending, praised the House’s approach to Israel aid and said anything else is “dead on arrival” in the Senate. Paul also called out McConnell by name, saying his fellow Kentucky Republican should simply accede to the House’s proposal.
“If Sen. McConnell thinks he’s going to pass a $100 billion conglomeration — what Biden wants — there’s no way it passes the House. Sen. McConnell’s not unaware of the way the House works,” Paul told us. “It’s a very precarious position the speaker is in. I think that’s all he can get through.”
There are some practical challenges tied to what Vance and Paul are pushing for. For one, a standalone Israel bill with offsets is a no-go for the Democratic-led Senate.
it takes $14.3 billion to build an app when you are using government programmers. https://t.co/nDOwYcVBvF— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 31, 2023
House Republicans are scrambling to pass 12 appropriations measures under Johnson, as they seek to stave off the impending shutdown and carve out deeper cuts on government spending. According to The Hill, GOP negotiators under former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had negotiated cuts the top-line level for the party's government funding to $1.471 trillion earlier this year as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), however an intraparty compromise was later reached for $1.526 trillion as tensions simmered.
Passage of the bills would set up negotiations with the Senate, which faces its own challenges in regards to the 12 appropriations measures.
The House swiftly approved its first funding bill in weeks just days ago after the chamber reopened under Johnson, who won the gavel less than a week ago. The sprawling partisan energy plan is just one of eight bills that Republicans hope to pass out of the House by Nov. 17, when government funding is set to expire.
The party previously hoped to pass their 12 annual government funding bills during the summer, but those efforts fell short as then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) struggled to unify the party behind those bills amid calls for deeper cuts from conservatives. -The Hill
Congress has until Nov. 17 to pass yet more legislation to keep the lights on or risk a shutdown. The most likely course of action is that members on both sides of the aisle will pass a(nother) short-term funding bill at 2022 levels, which will buy time for more spending talks.
As The Hill further notes, part of the debt ceiling bill passed earlier this year includes a provision that if Congress crosses into 2024 without having passed its 12 funding bills, there will be a 1% cut across-the-board on defense and nondefense spending, which will take effect in April.
So, a total shitshow.